Our people

700 professionals at Knights service 10,000 clients across the full spectrum of legal & professional services.

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Jen Couchman

Partner
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Jen Couchman

Partner

Jen is a Partner in the Landed Estates team.

Advising on a wide range of complex tax and trust matters, Jen helps families to agree arrangements for succession planning, inheritance tax mitigation, wealth protection, wills and guardianship, life interest and discretionary trusts, settled land act settlements, overseas assets, powers of attorney and probate.

For over 12 years, Jen has worked with landed estates, agricultural families, business owners and individuals with significant personal wealth.

Recent examples of how Jen has helped clients include:

• advising the executors on the administration of a complex and high value estate, with assets in different countries and multiple beneficiaries;

• structuring the ownership of assets to maximize the availability of business property relief in regard to inheritance tax planning for a family with an owner-managed - business to ensure the safe transfer of assets from one generation to the next; and

• structuring the ownership of a client's assets to achieve the most advantageous position in relation to entrepreneurs' relief and incorporation relief.

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Richard Pinney

Partner
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Richard Pinney

Partner

Richard is a Partner in the Agriculture and Landed Estates teams.

Richard advises rural businesses and landowners on property matters concerning partnership agreements, inheritance tax and succession planning, as well as helping farmers with the rules and regulations concerning entitlements and issues with the Rural Payments Agency, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Brought up on his family’s farm and being qualified in both agriculture and law, Richard has close links with rural landowners and professionals throughout England. His clients range from start-ups and small farmers to equestrian estates and commercial farms owned by national brands or international investors. Richard is also acts as a trustee for several estates.

He likes to go and see his clients and the property with which he is instructed. Most of his transactional work involves the sale or purchase of farms, woodlands, country houses or development land but he also deals with tenancy agreements, grazing licenses, registration of boundaries, easements, rights of access and other third-party rights and health and safety regulations for public events and countryside sports.

Recent examples of how Richard has helped include:

  • expeditious purchase of a mixed farm in the Midlands and subsequent letting of it with contracting agreements to a farming company;
  • surrenders and regrants of AHA and ATA tenancies for potential development land with associated rights to uplifts and overages;
  • selling a farm in Herefordshire on behalf of lawyers acting for a Russian Bank when the exiled owner was declared bankrupt;
  • acquiring specialised property and equestrian business interests on behalf of a leading race horse trainers;
  • establishing new and bespoke arrangements for ‘horsiculture’ businesses including DIY liveries, cross country courses and joint venture schemes for polo and eventing yards;
  • optimising the payments received under the DEFRA Basic Farm Payments Scheme for new and young farmers in Dorset; and
  • tax-efficient succession planning for a farmer who wished to safeguard the farm as it passes to the next generation.

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Brona Simmonds

Partner
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Brona Simmonds

Partner

Brona is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Brona advises on the acquisition and sale of development sites, conditional contracts, options, promotion agreements, joint ventures, development and overage or clawback agreements, the sale and purchase of farms and agricultural land, agricultural tenancies and subsidies, heritage properties and tailored commercial and residential funding.

Brona's clients include landed estates, agricultural families, private business owners, developers, trusts, charities, local authorities and registered social landlords.

Recent examples of how Brona has helped clients include:

• identifying a risk in a complex multi-party funding agreement and improving the client's position;

• helping a client acquire units on a development site which required liaison with the local authority, a third-party developer and a grant funder within a strict timetable; and

• completing, in time for crop planting, the purchase of a large area of agricultural land which was being sold in lots by connected, but inefficient, sellers.

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Kate Smith

Partner
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Kate Smith

Partner

Kate is a Partner in the Landed Estates, Agriculture and Wills & Estates teams.

Kate advises on succession and capital gains tax planning, inheritance tax, setting up of trusts and family charters or constitutions, settled land act settlements, heritage property issues, wills and probate.  She often works in a multi-disciplinary team of trustees and accountants.

Kate advises many landed estates with diverse rural businesses, including a number of prominent families and owners of historic properties.

Recent examples of how Kate has helped clients include:

• enabling a landed estate comprising numerous trusts with interests including farming, development and leisure to enjoy inheritance tax relief and minimise stamp duty land tax by re-structuring the business model;

• preserving the assets of a landed estate and meeting trustee objectives by extending the life of a trust for a further 125 years with the ability to accumulate income throughout that time; and

• enabling a landed estate to benefit from entrepreneur's relief and incorporation relief on development land by structuring as a trading business, rather than an investment business.

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Derek Walsh

Partner
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Derek Walsh

Partner

Derek is a Partner in the Landed Estates team.

Derek advises on disputes relating to rural land and agricultural business contracts. With several years’ in-house experience with the NFU, he is familiar with the sector-specific terms and conditions agreed by the various agri-food trade bodies and has advised on many breaches of contract between suppliers, processors, merchants and others regarding the supply of sub-standard goods and services.  He also acts in cases relating to pricing mechanism disputes; termination of agreements; professional negligence involving vets or agronomists; claims of nuisance following incidents such as flooding and spray drift; and DEFRA or police investigations. He has acted in disputes over a wide range of services and products including grain, potatoes, milk, straw (biomass), renewable energy, farm machinery and plant.

Derek acts for rural landowners and developers in respect of public rights of way, village greens and coastal access.  This includes objecting to Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs); responding to applications for establishing or upgrading public rights of way brought by members of the public or interest groups; advising on or objecting to Natural England’s proposals for the alignment of the English Coastal Path; applications to divert public rights of way on grounds of security, privacy, or development; and on installation of gates across public rights of way to contain livestock or prevent unauthorised access.

Derek also advises landowners on agricultural property disputes regarding adverse possession, boundaries, easements, private rights of way and access, overage, and farm tenancies.

Examples of how Derek has helped clients include:

  • obtaining the relevant order from the local authority as part of a strategy to divert a public right of way to a field away from our client’s home and garden;
  • protecting the future profitability of a housing development, by advising a developer on a DMMO application in regard to an alleged historic right of way;
  • successfully fending off an overage claim in excess of £150,000;
  • successfully defending a seed potato grower in a £3 million breach of contract claim under British Potato Trade Association rules;
  • protecting the landmark Vixen Tor on Dartmoor by preventing public access over farmland, in a case which made national news;
  • obtaining compensation for dairy farmers who had been supplied with defective sexed semen, including for loss of revenues;
  • helping to prevent the penalisation of a number of farmers and recovering wrongly obtained retrospective penalties from the Ministry of Agriculture in a case while with the NFU - R v Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte WH Strawson and JA Gagg (2002);
  • helping to secure millions of pounds of EU aid for UK farmers in a case where the NFU challenged the interpretation of EU regulations - R v Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte J.H. Cooke & Sons (2000);
  • obtaining compensation for farmers affected by the 2008 outbreak of foot and mouth disease in a case backed by the NFU - D Pride and Partners and Others v Institute for Animal Health and Others QBD (2009).
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Ann Danson

Senior Associate
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Ann Danson

Senior Associate

Ann is a Senior Associate in the Tax & Trusts and Wills & Estates teams.

Ann advises on succession planning and wealth protection for those with an interest in a landed estate.  This includes providing advice on business structures, trust arrangements, property ownership rights and tax mitigation - particularly on death, and specifically where business property or agricultural property relief may be available to reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable.  She also advises on wills, probate and general estate administration where there may be a need to tailor or vary arrangements to ensure business continuity and maximum tax efficiency.

Ann acts for private individuals and their families, many of her clients have commercial as well as residential property interests or are farming families with complex partnership or corporate arrangements to consider.

Recent examples of how Ann has helped clients include:

• advising the owners of a large estate on the reorganisation of their property ownership arrangements to enable them to regain possession of tenanted land needed to develop their tourism-based business;

• spotting a mistake in the way a trust had been organised which, if left unaddressed, could have resulted in the trust being exposed to a significant and unnecessary tax liability;

• restructuring ownership of an estate to ensure the competing income and capital needs of three generations of the same family could be met; and

• seeking permission from the High Court to extend the lifespan of a trust, following an earlier failed attempt to do this by the client's previous professional advisor

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Natalie Fuller

Associate
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Natalie Fuller

Associate

Natalie is an Associate in the Landed Estates team.

She advises on agricultural, residential and commercial property law and the implications for the management, finance, disposal or acquisition of land and property.  This covers landlord and tenant matters, farm business tenancies, grazing licences, rights of access, agricultural tenancies, easements, property development, overage agreements, finance, sale or purchase of woodland, conditional contracts or option agreements, bespoke residential tenancies of listed and historic property, adverse possession and first registrations.

Clients include landowners, business owners, farming families, trusts, and large estate owners throughout England.

Recent examples of how Natalie has helped clients include:

  • the sale of commercial plots for a landed family who had developed farmland into industrials units, with advice on the need for a management company, surrenders of existing tenancies, wayleaves, rights, reservations and building covenants;
  • the purchase of a large estate in the North of England, including extensive title queries, transfers of part, surrenders, drafting farm business tenancies and commercial leases;
  • the development of a farm into bespoke residential dwellings, including ensuring necessary easements, rights, reservations and covenants were in place; and
  • purchasing a £2 million unregistered farm, including sorting out first registration, adverse rights and existing tenancies, as well as granting new tenancies on completion - all within a very short timeframe.
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Rachel Hackney

Associate
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Rachel Hackney

Associate

Rachel is an Associate in the Agriculture and Landed Estates teams.

Rachel provides advice to landowners on the management, financing, development and sale and purchase of their land and property.  This includes advising on ownership arrangements to ensure favourable tax treatment, conditional contracts and option agreements where land has been earmarked for development, overage and clawback agreements to maximise the return on land sales, negotiations for the grant and surrender of agricultural tenancies, applications to register land with the Land Registry and claims of entitlement to land via adverse possession.

Rachel acts for estate owners, farming families, private businesses, trusts and charitable organisations.

Examples of how Rachel has helped clients include:

• resolving numerous issues to facilitate the transfer of multiple assets, worth £18.5 million from one estate company to another as part of a refinancing deal;

• coordinating plot sales for a landed estate with residential, commercial and sporting interests, including option agreements and overage provisions, to secure additional remuneration for the estate owner;

• dividing up a family farm to minimise each family member's potential inheritance tax liability while securing appropriate rights to ensure that it could be farmed as one unit; and

• successfully claiming ownership, by adverse possession, of a parcel of land on behalf of a farmer who had occupied it for over 20 years without challenge but who was not registered as the legal owner.

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Jayne Beardmore

Solicitor
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Jayne Beardmore

Solicitor

Jayne is a Solicitor in the Agriculture and Landed Estates teams.

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Darren Gill

Solicitor
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Darren Gill

Solicitor

Darren is a Solicitor in the Real Estate team.